Monday, 2 May 2011

Gareth Vs Shakespeare

I have never made a secret of how much I have always hidden from confronting the work of Shakespeare. There has always been an element of fear which I have never really understood. It could be the language, the structure or that god damn iambic pentameter he used... I really don't know. None the less I have always progressed in drama in the knowledge that one day I would have to face up to Shakespeare. After all if I want to go further I will have to embrace his work, as it forms a fundamental part of any actors training. Having put it off for so long, I have decided that this summer is my D-Day!

For one of my end of term assessments, we were tasked to take on a duologue. There was no strict guidelines given as to the style of this piece, and I will be honest throughout the lesson I gave it little thought, planning on thinking it through over the long weekend I had ahead of me. I guess had it of been left to me, I would have picked something from a modern play or some text from a musical. Though I guess in hindsight, playing safe will not push me and test me in the same way that taking a risk will. Though it wasn't until the end of the lesson that I realised there would be an opportunity to do this.

Nick Windsor - a fellow student approached me asking if I would be interested in tackling the final scene of Henry VI. The first thing that crossed my mind was "I really didn't know this play". Then it dawned upon me that I really don't know much of Shakespeare's work having avoided it for so long. With the exception of Orthello, I have not read any play in full since senior school, and even then I used to skim read Shakespeare. I got away with copying other peoples work back then so I saw no point in reading the books!

Though what was it that made me come to the conclusion that now was the time for me to tackle Shakespeare in performance? Maybe it was Nick's compliments of my dialect and articulation which won me over, (I do love flattery) but deep down I knew that this was my calling to finally tackle Shakespeare head on. I was also keen to work with Nick having only really started to connect with him at the end of the spring term. Nick is great - very talented, hard working and I feel he has a real connection with classical plays of this sort. If I had to pick anyone in the class to do a Shakespearian piece with - it would certainly have been him. I know he has a love for script work and shares a desire to win, so I am relishing this opportunity.

What's more is I actually have a burning desire to make this work for me. I think previously I would have had a defeatist attitude of "oh well this is my weakness" - but I really don't want this to be seen as me confronting a weakness rather an opportunity for me to impress people in an area I have yet to work in. Whilst classes are not about competition, I really do want myself and Nick to stand out as being the best by a long margin, after all second best is the first looser!

I will no doubt put a write up in a couple of months saying how it has all gone! Who knows, if its good enough there may be a video also! There are just two other videos of me on youtube which I keep hidden from the world. (I challenge you to find them.... it is close on impossible) Though now I am keen to build up a profile of my work, so I am more keen to have my stuff online if I deem it to be of a high enough standard, though I am a tough critic.

This isn't my only confrontation with Shakespeare this term however. In a couple of weeks I start another module which studies Shakespeare in performance. We will be studying "Much To Do About Nothing" and another play which we will read, analyse then see them in performance on the West End. This can only add to my Shakespeare tool box which is currently somewhat empty. I guess I will keep you all updated!

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